Attorney General to review 'lenient' sentences of 'monsters' who killed Arthur, 6

4 December 2021, 12:14 | Updated: 4 December 2021, 19:17

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, 6, (right) was murdered by his stepmother Emma Tustin.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, 6, (right) was murdered by his stepmother Emma Tustin (left). Picture: West Midlands Police

By Sophie Barnett

The Attorney General is to review the sentences handed to the father and stepmother of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who were jailed over his killing on Friday.

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In a statement, a spokesperson from the Attorney General's office offered their thoughts to Arthur's loved ones and confirmed the sentences given to Emma Tustin for murder and Thomas Hughes for manslaughter were being reviewed.

"The Attorney General’s thoughts are with those who loved Arthur," said the spokesperson.

"I can confirm that the sentences given to Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have been referred to the Attorney General for review to determine whether they were too low."

The MP for Solihull earlier called for a review of the "lenient" sentences of the "monsters" who killed six-year-old Arthur and said those "who failed him must be held accountable".

Thomas Hughes was jailed yesterday for 21 years for the manslaughter of his son Arthur, while his partner Emma Tustin was sentenced to life with a minimum of 29 years for his murder.

Conservative MP Julian Knight says he'll be writing to the Attorney General, describing the sentences as "too lenient" and "just not enough".

He said Solihull still has "collective heartbreak" over the murder of young Arthur, who tragically died last year after being left with an unsurvivable brain injury after a campaign of "cruel and inhuman" abuse.

Mr Knight described Tustin and Hughes as "monsters" and said there is a "sense of anger" over how the tragedy was allowed to happen.

He said: "We need to ensure those who failed him are held accountable."

An independent review has been launched by Solihull's Local Child Safeguarding Partnership after it emerged in court that Arthur had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were "no safeguarding concerns".

Read more: Evil stepmother Emma Tustin 'suicide risk' after being bullied by inmates in jail

His family said Arthur was failed by the "very authorities that we, as a society, are led to believe are there to ensure the safety of everyone".

Speaking to Andrew Castle on LBC, Executive Officer at the Association of Child Abuse Lawyer, David Greenwood, said there will "always be adults that neglect and assault children".

He told Andrew he would like to see work done in social care to address the problem, explaining there are "lots of excellent social workers" who do fantastic work to keep children safe.

"The question is how do we get standards up?"

He said we need to "improve the current position" instead of looking at solutions after tragic events happen.

Meanwhile, child protection expert Dr Bernard Gallagher told Matt Frei we "owe it to this poor boy to make sure we do find out exactly what happened".

Tim Loughton, who served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families from May 2010 to September 2012, said there will be "serious lessons" following the tragic abuse and murder of Arthur.

Read more: PM says "questions need to be answered" after murder of 6-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

He said "we" all have a "duty" to make sure other vulnerable children are not let down by social care in the same way as Arthur, whose body was found to be covered in 130 bruises following his death.

Mr Loughton said funding for children's social care has "lagged behind" and "social workers are overstretched and undervalued".

"In truth, they should be revered as our fourth emergency service," the Tory MP wrote in The Sun.

Read more: ‘Evil’ father and stepmother guilty of killing Arthur, six, after months of horrific abuse

"Early interventions to stop the causes of safeguarding problems have been diluted to late interventions to firefight symptoms.

"This is a false economy where in this case a child paid with his life. We all have an interest in putting this right urgently and a duty to make sure it is."

Mr Loughton said Arthur's torture and murder is "sadly not an isolated incident".

"For many of us with a long-standing interest in child safeguarding there’s an exasperating sense of deja vu," he wrote.

Questioning how Arthur was let down by social care, Mr Loughton wrote: "On early analysis there’s the checklist of professionals missing opportunities to intervene, alarms bells rung but not acted on, agencies lacking coordination and failure to share information."

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he would be making a statement on the case to Parliament on Monday.